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Packers still high on Starks

It's too bad Niagara Falls native and former University at Buffalo running back James Starks is injured right now. With Green Bay leading rusher Ryan Grant out for the season with an ankle injury, Starks would have been in position to earn a key role in the Packers' offense.

But the rookie will miss at least the first six weeks of the season after the Packers put him on the reserve/physically unable to perform list due to a hamstring problem that has sidelined Starks since the spring. Once the six-week period is over, the Packers will have three weeks to decide whether to put him on the 53-man roster or the season-ending injured reserve list.

Injuries dogged Starks throughout his UB career. He sat out his senior season with a shoulder problem that required surgery. The Packers got him in the sixth round of last April's draft, but he would have gone much earlier if not for questions about his durability.

Even though they haven't seen much of Starks' talent since he arrived in Green Bay, the Packers remain intrigued by his potential.

"He's a big, athletic running back, and I think he has the ability to be a three-down player,'' Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told the Buffalo media via conference call this week. "I haven't seen him in pads yet, so there's really a lot of information we haven't been able to gain on him. Hopefully he can get past this [injury] and get healthy so when we get there after Week Six we can evaluate him.''

---Allen Wilson

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